Bella Torgerson McLaws/BYU
PROVO — BYU dug a big hole for itself to start West Coast Conference play by dropping two road games in late December.
The Cougars avenged both of those losses, against Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount, last week at home as part of a three-game winning streak.
Now, BYU (11-7, 3-2) has another uphill climb ahead as it has four consecutive road games beginning Thursday (7 p.m. MST, ESPNU) with a showdown at San Francisco.
“It’s a tough stretch we have here,” Cougar coach Dave Rose said after last Saturday’s 91-68 triumph over Loyola Marymount. “We’re going to have to be really tough and really together. We’ll take one at a time. First things first — San Francisco.”
BYU has lost four straight road games, dating back to an 81-64 setback at Utah on Dec. 14. The Cougars haven’t won a true road game since a 112-102 victory at Stanford on Nov. 11.
During the last three home games, which also included a win over San Diego, BYU’s offense and defense have shown significant improvement.
The Cougars hope they can continue to play well away from home.
“I feel like we’ve changed a lot since we were on the road last,” said guard Matt Carlino, who came off the bench to score 18 points and dish out four assists against Loyola Marymount. “I think we just need to stay focused on what we’ve been doing here (at the Marriott Center) and just carry it on the road.”
San Francisco (11-7, 4-2) is in a two-way tie for second place in the WCC standings with Pepperdine. The Dons fell at Saint Mary’s on Saturday, 88-73. USF boasts four players averaging double figures, led by forward Cole Dickerson, who averages 13.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
On Saturday, BYU visits Santa Clara (10-9, 3-3).
The next week, the Cougars travel to Portland (10-7, 2-3), which upset league-leading Gonzaga last week, followed by a trip to the McCarthey Athletic Center, also known as The Kennel, in Spokane, Wash., to take on the ‘Zags (4-1, 14-3).
The Cougars won’t play at home again until Jan. 30, when they host WCC newcomer Pacific.
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